Waterford Township— As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, state fire and licensing officials are asking consumers to take extra care with fireworks.
State Fire Marshal Richard Miller visited a township fireworks outlet Wednesday as part of a statewide campaign urging the public to always use extreme caution when using any type of fireworks and to buy only from state licensed retailers. He said every year hospital emergency rooms see injured people, some seriously, by mishandling fireworks.
“The emphasis is on safety — for business and anyone who buys and uses fireworks,” said Miller, standing amid aisles of rockets and firecrackers at the Big Fireworks store on Dixie Highway.
The store contained stacks of brightly decorated boxes of fireworks with exotic names like “Courage Under Fire,” “The Big Boss,” “Kill Shot” and “Detonator.”
Miller said an hour-long inspection of the Waterford store found no violations and operators were obeying all laws regarding the safe storage and sale of fireworks.
Since January 2012, it has been legal for people 18 years and older to buy and use certain fireworks in Michigan under certain conditions, some dictated by local ordinances.
Miller stressed that it is only lawful for licensed dealers to sell low-impact fireworks — like sparklers, snappers and poppers — and commercial-grade fireworks, such as bottle rockets and Roman candles. For a complete list, visit www.michigan.gov.
Low-impact fireworks are ground-based items. Commercial grade fireworks are to be ignited only from personal property and it is illegal to use them on any public property, including streets and sidewalks, school or church property or any person’s property without permission.
Fireworks of long ago — such as cherry bombs, M-80s and Silver Salutes — are all illegal.
People responsible for fires or injuries involving illegal fireworks are subject to crimes of up to a felony with a five-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine.
While officials encourage the public to enjoy professional fireworks displays run by municipalities, they offered some suggestions for use at home:
■Always purchase fireworks from an authorized dealer and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
■Do not buy fireworks packed in brown paper.
■Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers.
■Light fireworks one at a time, immediately backing away a safe distance.
■Light fireworks outdoors on a driveway or paved surface at least 25 feet away from houses or highly flammable materials such as dry grass.
■Have a garden hose or a bucket of water handy in case of fire.
Miller made his comments inside a building that just two years ago housed a miniature golf course.
There are no shortage of fireworks outlets, with 880 licensed retailers across the state, both in buildings and some operating outside in tents. Wayne County has the most with 148 outlets, Oakland County has 106 and Macomb County has 87 retail outlets.
“We are a national company with five retailers in Michigan,” said Sean Conn, a vice president with Big Fireworks. “Safety and fireworks go hand in hand. We cannot operate as a business if we don’t emphasize safety for our stores, employees and customers.”
Conn said fireworks sales are big business, noting a store typically reach sales between $250,000 and $1 million around popular holidays like Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day.